Lessons from a not-so-skilled project manager

Aug 1, 2023

Image of time management and planning tools.
I am a chronic learner. I would go to school forever if I had the unlimited funds it takes to get degrees these days (and yeah, I’m still paying off that grad school degree from many years ago, so there’s that). I do manage to find a way to keep learning though. I love online courses and have taken a number of them over the past couple of years, mostly related to my business venture. I’m also loving memberships – both running one and belonging to them. During the course I took about how to create a membership, I met a fellow writer who was also launching a membership. But she’s not just a writer – she’s a project manager. And she’s not only used that superpower to manage her own writing life, but now she’s helping other writers do the same. So when she launched her membership on how to make your writing life more joyful (yes please), I had to sign up as a founding member. Because, let’s face it. I’m a good writer. I am NOT a good project manager. When faced with project management realities in my corporate life, I used to ignore them as best I could. As I got higher up in the food chain, I hired people to deal with that kind of thing. It’s just not my wheelhouse. Yet here I am, determined to figure out how to manage my work life – and possibly my whole life – better. Part of the problem is I pile too much on. I’m still working during the day, although it’s shifted to a consulting role, which just means less politics and meetings. The amount of work is the same. I’m also working on getting my business off the ground. And, of course, there’s the writing. So I’m a few weeks into this membership, and I wanted to report on my progress. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
  • Stop over-scheduling myself. I have a tendency to want to get everything done RIGHT NOW. I would make giant lists and expect to do it all in a week or less, then get so overwhelmed I shut the laptop and sat on the couch. Now, I’m learning to estimate how much time I WANT (not should) to spend on tasks and only note the ones that can be done during that amount of time.
  • Prioritize ease. Much to my shock, I’m learning that doing more is not always better. I was raised with an overachiever mindset, and if I’m not constantly producing or feeling like I’m advancing something, I feel like I’m not doing enough. Here, I’m learning to be realistic about what I can do and not stress about more.
  • Celebrate myself. I’ve been talking about this for a while, but it’s a hard lesson for me (see above point). It feels very foreign to me to pat myself on the back for something. It’s much more normal to say, Wow, that’s it? You could’ve done more! I’m learning how not to do this.
  • Schedule something fun. I just learned this one today. The facilitator asked what fun thing I’ve been putting off. When I identified it, she told me to take one work thing off the list and put the fun thing in instead – not to just add it to the list, which I’d been about to do. This whole process is about finding more space, and while it’s WAY out of my comfort zone, I’m definitely learning how to think about work very differently.
I can already tell this isn’t going to be an overnight transition. But I can tell that once I learn these lessons, they’re going to pay off exponentially. What about you? Have you learned any valuable lessons on how to manage your work or your life so it’s more joyful? I’d love to hear them!

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